Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Marriage - A Matter of Faith and Flesh

On March 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States began hearing oral arguments regarding the Constitutionality of “Proposition 8,” which is effectively a voter-induced ban on “gay marriage” in California. As a result of this and other current events over the past year or so, I have seen many Christians join the fight in favor of “gay marriage” or “marriage equality.” Many friends whom I call brothers and sisters have taken various steps towards advancing this movement. I thought it would be helpful to address several questions on this issue that can help others when wrestling with similar conflicts within the culture in which we find ourselves. At the end of this post I will share a directly relevant model displayed by Jesus Himself on how to handle ourselves in such matters.

Who determines what is right and what is wrong? It should not be our emotions, not the US Constitution, and certainly not a panel of fallen human judges appointed by fallen human Presidents. Rather, it is God and God alone. Some Christians are attempting to approach this issue strictly from a secular “separation of Church and State” perspective. While a secular approach is respectable to some degree, most if not all of these arguments are still generally laced with moral sentiments and rebukes, using words like “right,” “wrong,” “hate,” “love,” and “human rights violation.” It is one thing to argue without a plea to morality, but we have yet to see that on this issue from any sides. The truth is that it is almost impossible to articulate a meaningful opinion on it without employing morality of some kind. But, invoking morality in the midst of attempting a “secular” argument is self-refuting. Morality refutes “secular” and vice versa. And, if instead you are attempting a moral argument in favor of “gay marriage,” are you arguing against God Himself, the One who solely defines both morality and marriage? That would be foolish. On a secular note, the stated desired financial and visitation outcomes of this movement can more easily be achieved through populist legislative initiatives without redefining marriage. The lack of discussion around such solutions is disturbing.

What determines our human rights? Again, it is not anything that comes from man. Human rights are inalienable, which means they are granted by God and God alone, the Creator of all humans.

Who speaks for God? God does, alone. Every human, especially Christians, should stop presuming that they speak for God since God has already spoken for Himself in the Bible, and eloquently so.

How does a Christian express love towards homosexuals? God, who is love and the author of human love, and the Creator of all human beings, determines that, alone. And, love is best humanly expressed through His Gospel. Enabling the legal ability to marry is not an act of love. The attempt to reduce “love” to this level or to inflate acts of opposition to the level of hatred, is a perversion of what love truly is. God is Love. Therefore, He defined love, He is the source of all love, He determined what is and is not love, and He did so alone. God actually is the sole Definer of all things. And, love has nothing to do with positions on “gay marriage” and everything to do with reconciling men to God. Further enabling any sin works against that goal. And, perverting God’s opinions with flesh-centered motives can never result in love. The deepest expression of love is to earnestly and lovingly reconcile people to God, not promote activity that further separates the two. In fact, enabling separation from God is more the opposite of love. For all sides of the issue I Corinthians 13 spells out precisely how to love each other. And this issue is not exempted. That book of the Bible commands, among other things, that we be patient, kind, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, not insist on our own way, not be irritable, not be resentful, not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth. All Christians on all sides of this issue would be well-served to meditate on these words daily and modify our actions accordingly.

As we determine that our own efforts are virtuous in our own eyes, who is it that truly determines virtue? Again, that is God alone. As fleshly initiatives are allowed to invade the Church with human notions of virtue, remember that the religious leaders thought the same about the temple money changers and their intentions before Jesus kicked them out with a whip. After all, they were helping Jews honor God by assisting them in making sacrifices in God’s temple with Hebrew coins and not forbidden Roman coins. But their “virtue” offended God by using His house for sin-laden agendas other than prayer. Likewise, would God look kindly today upon the Church being targeted for sin-laden political agendas by Christians? Regarding viewing our actions as virtuous, Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” God is the sole source of all virtue.

Whose opinions last? That again would be God’s alone. And, God does not think highly of the temporal opinions of men or their carnal emotions. God only values of highest opinion His own opinion. We can choose to fight for something spun from political correctness, but God is not subject to human spinning or political correctness. We will never fully understand God. Therefore, we will never fully understand His opinions. Faith, by definition means full surrender of our opinions and emotions. Faith, therefore, means adopting God’s opinions even if our flesh does not understand them and/or disagrees with them. It is the opposite of faith to reject God’s opinions in honor of our own fallen minds (flesh). It is idolatry to conclude that God’s opinions don’t measure up to the man-vaulted glories of political correctness. This is walking by human sight, not by faith in God. We should rather desire to be aligned with God even if reviled by the world instead of the other way around.

With those questions answered, I will share a few declarative statements to spur thinking. God-fearing believers should Biblically evaluate these declarations as truth, unless it can be proven otherwise –

If you are a Christian you believe that:
  • God invented marriage before the world began and created all humans.
  • God determines all right and wrong.
  • God is right 100% of the time and never wrong.
  • God spoke through His word, the Bible, revealing His opinions.
  • Our opinion can never override God’s.
  • All sin is genetic (Romans 5:12).
  • No sin is acceptable to God.
Recognizing that all sin is genetic, we must also recognize that genetics is a part of flesh. Therefore, an argument favoring genetics favors flesh over faith. Calling sexual sin a sin is not an act of hatred. Neither is actively opposing “gay marriage.” Remember, it is God and God alone who determines what is and what is not an act of hatred. Further, if labeling something a sin is hatred, does that mean calling my own sexual sin (lust) a sin means I hate myself? I can assure you that when I lust I call it sin, and I am uncomfortably far from hating myself. Does calling a confessed thief guilty of stealing mean that I hate him? Is God’s delineation of all sexual sin in the Bible an act of hatred by God? We can’t follow the world in redefining terms that God has defined, like hate and love, so that we fall into a trap of honoring flesh over faith. God never gave the world such authority. If voting for a “gay marriage” ban is an act of hatred, then by logical extension, voting for other behavior-related bans are acts of hatred towards those people who freely partake in what is being banned. This is foolish thinking. Does a ban on smoking in public places mean that we hate smokers? Does a ban on selling large soft drinks in New York mean that Mayor Bloomberg hates people who sell or drink large soft drinks? More to the point, does a national ban on polygamy mean that we hate polygamists? This is nonsense thinking and nonsense does not belong in the minds of Christ. This thinking honors flesh over faith. In everything, those claiming and using the mind of Christ must always honor faith in God over flesh.

Pastor Rick Warren once said, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

Would God, the Author and Inventor of all things (including marriage), support His people being aligned with redefining marriage (His institution and invention) to include homosexual couples? Remember that God invented marriage and He alone defines it from the beginning. Genesis 2:23-24 says, “The man said, ‘this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man,’  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” And, like all of His inventions, the reason God invented marriage was not random. It is one of only two institutions that He invented to reveal Himself to man (the other being the Church). Marriage intentionally points to God. Marriage was invented by God as a reflection of His unconditional love and the beautiful union between Jesus (the Groom), and the Church (His Bride), as the final culmination of our salvation and redemption from sin. Perverting God’s institution in honor of sexual sin is a mockery of His institution and His revelation.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” How is it possible for someone to be doing something that they believe is “right” but unknowingly leads to something as dreadful as “death”? The thing that Solomon is referring to as leading to death is sin. Sin is what the Bible instructs us as always leading to death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, if your “way” is aligned with sin, it will lead to death. Sin includes sexual sin. Sexual sin includes heterosexual sin as well as homosexual sin. It opposes God to attempt to white-wash one class of sexual sin just because it is fashionable. And, such opposition promotes more sin, which is certainly a way that leads to more death.

In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul warned Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” In this passage, Paul warned Timothy about the Church. He was not talking about the world. And, Paul was also speaking prophetically about today. Christians today are actively placing teachers before them to redefine sinful passions as genetically predestined. And, since God invented, defined, sanctions and recognizes marriages, “gay marriage” is a myth to Him. Christians must take Paul’s warnings to Timothy even more seriously today than 2,000 years ago.

Christians should hold the Bible as all authority for God having spoken.  It is not the defenders of God’s definition of marriage that have to show scriptural proof, because it is already explicitly there.  The burden of proof lies upon Christians who are working to redefine marriage.  Where is the scripture that clearly displays God’s approval for “gay marriage?” Christian proponents of “gay marriage” have yet to articulate one. Instead, there are Christians espousing humanistic platitudes as if they are God’s. But, “adding” to God’s revelation is not a position with which Christians should align.

Speaking of misalignment, in Joshua 5, Joshua was about to lead the people into the battle for Jericho. He noticed a stranger standing in front of him with his sword drawn as if about to lead Joshua and the Israelites into battle. Joshua approached him and asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” Curiously, he replied, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” In other words the angel said, “No; I don’t fight for any fleshly side. I fight for God.” Joshua quickly fell in line behind him. Joshua had initially asked God’s commander to pick a fleshly side. But, God doesn’t take fleshly sides; He leads. It is man who must choose to either take God’s side or oppose Him. God leads His people and not the other way around. If we are to address this movement, we must align with faith over flesh, like Joshua. It is impossible to fight for God before Him. To fight before God always results in opposing Him.

In conclusion, Jesus Himself gave us a very clear and loving model on how to Biblically interact with others regarding sexual sin in John 8. Jesus was brought an adulteress, who was condemned by the religious leaders to be stoned to death. Jesus did not twist scripture to white-wash her sin based upon her genetics. Jesus did not play politics to fight for her freedom of sexual expression. To our knowledge, Jesus did not make a plea for equality in light of the glaring absence of the guilty man she had sinned with. And, Jesus did not refrain from characterizing her act as “sin.” But, He also embraced her with love. Jesus forgave her without hesitation. Jesus implored others not to condemn her. And, Jesus implored her to walk forward from that day onward in a renewed identity characterized by repentance from that sin. In the most powerful words of this story, Jesus (God) looked the adulteress in the eyes, informed her that He does not condemn her and concluded, “go and sin no more.” Jesus affirmed her true identity and called her to turn away from genetic sin. This is our Model of reconciliation. A posture that works to promote “gay marriage” is one that is aligned with sin and clearly counter to the Jesus Model for handling sexual sin. And, our response must be consistently loving as outlined in I Corinthians 13 and John 8. Christians absolutely must faithfully follow Jesus Christ (God), as the one they call Lord, no matter what it costs. That is the least of what He purchased when He shed His own blood on the cross.